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Wealth Inequality in America

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Author T won by the way. This is solidarity.

 

 

http://www.necn.com/news/business/Market-Basket-Stores-Prepare-for-Return-of-Arthur-T-Demoulas-273000561.html

 

 

Artie T. to Market Basket Workers: "I Love You All"

 

Market Basket's restored chief delivered heartfelt words of thanks to his supporters Thursday, just hours after his return to the helm of the grocery chain was announced.

Arthur T. Demoulas, whose June firing as CEO sparked weeks of protests and boycotts, told a cheering crowd of hundreds of employees that he is in "awe of what you have all accomplished." 

"I've always believed that we are born into this world at a certain time and a certain place to be with certain people for a reason and a purpose. Everyone has a destiny and because of you I stand here with a renewed vigor and a sense of purpose," he told those gathered outside the company's Tewksbury, Massachusetts, headquarters.

I am in awe of what you have all accomplished. Arthur T. Demoulas
 

"And may we always remember this past summer, first as a time where our collective values of loyalty courage and kindness for one another really prevailed and in that process we just happened to save our company." 

Demoulas and the board announced late Wednesday that an agreement has been reached for him to buy for $1.5 billion the 50.5 percent of the company owned by his rival cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.

The restored chief credited employees' grassroots efforts for his victory, saying workers and supporters "displayed to everyone your unwavering dedication and desire to protect the culture of your company.”

“You have demonstrated that everyone here has a purpose," he said. "You have demonstrated that everyone has meaning and no one person is better or more important than another, and no one person holds a position of privilege."

The standoff had prompted intervention by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Trucks have started making deliveries to the New England supermarket chain.

"Let's get to work and have lots of fun," said Demoulas.

 

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I posted this a couple of years ago, think it bears repeating...

 

 

Why Corporations are Psychotic
 

Senator Bernie Sanders echoed the sentiments of many last week when he called for a constitutional amendment to repeal the notion of corporate personhood. This issue jumped into public consciousness last year after the Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, effectively allowed unrestrained corporate influence in American politics, based partially on the idea that corporations are legally “persons” with constitutional rights. Sanders, in calling for the constitutional amendment, declared: “This is an enormously important issue, and how it is resolved will determine, to a significant degree, the future of American democracy.”
What is it about corporate personhood that so concerns Sanders and many others? That question could be answered many ways, but perhaps this is most concise: Corporations are psychotic.
If corporations are indeed “persons,” their mental condition can accurately be described as pathological. Corporations have no innate moral impulses, and in fact they exist solely for the purpose of making money. As such, these “persons” are systemically driven to do whatever is necessary to increase revenues and profits, with no regard for ethical issues that might nag real people.

But, you say, corporations are owned and managed by real people, so surely immoral corporate actions might be inhibited by them? Well, not really. First of all, the officers and directors who run corporations are actually duty-bound to act in the corporation’s best financial interest, and that means they are obliged to do whatever they can within the law to make money. Thus, this fiduciary duty requires corporate management to set aside ethical niceties when they get in the way of corporate profits. This is why tobacco companies market their products to kids when they can – only laws prohibiting such conduct will keep them from doing so.

This is especially true when we are dealing with large, publicly traded corporations. Whereas a small corporation could have local ownership, management, and community roots that might resist the drive for profit in certain situations, publicly traded corporations almost always answer to institutional investors and have tremendous pressure to produce short-term profits. The management chain in a publicly traded corporation is necessarily geared for profit, not ethics.

Thus, the entity is a “person” with a totally self-absorbed psyche, a narcissistic “person” that has enormous resources to advertise and market itself to the public, to hire professionals of all types to influence public opinion, to litigate and lobby as needed, to ruthlessly pursue its goal of revenue and profit, and to join other corporations and industry associations in crushing any opposition posed by mere individuals or public interest groups.

But hasn’t it always been this way? Isn’t that what capitalism is all about – corporate interests driving the economy?
Actually, no. Corporate libertarians would have you believe that somehow corporate dominance is entirely consistent with the values and vision of the Founding Fathers, but this is pure myth. The framers believed in limited government and free markets, but corporations were almost non-existent in the early days of the Republic. Unlike today, one could not form a corporation simply by filing a few papers with a government office; instead, permission from the government was needed (usually via an act of the Legislature) and was granted only upon a showing that the proposed corporation would be in the public interest. When corporate formation was allowed, strict terms and limitations were demanded.

Corporate formation was viewed skeptically in those days because corporations were correctly recognized as dangerous. Unlike sole proprietorships or partnerships, corporations allow investors to pool huge sums of capital and pursue profits while remaining immune from personal liability. Thus, if I own shares of XYZ Corporation and the company breaches a $10 million contract obligation, there is no chance that I will be personally liable on the contract. If I own a sole proprietorship or partnership that breaches such a contract, my personal assets are at risk.

This immunity makes the corporate structure extremely attractive to investors, even absentee investors, which means publicly traded corporations can attract enormous amounts of capital, which in turn results in their wielding great economic power. In modern society where corporations are widespread and commonplace, this economic power enables them to have great social and cultural influence, defining to a large degree how we live our lives and even the values we hold as a society. And of course economic power easily translates to political power as well.

It wasn’t until the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, long after the framers were dead, that corporate interests began to reshape the social, legal, and political environment so that their interests became paramount, far more important to politicians than the interests of ordinary citizens. Corporate personhood was a key part of this scheme.

Thus, while corporate libertarians are quick to point out that the framers and other intellectuals of the founding era were wary of excessive governmental power, they conveniently neglect to mention that concentrated corporate power was also viewed skeptically. In fact, Adam Smith, whose “Wealth of Nations” is often cited by corporate apologists as validating “free markets,” warned against unrestrained, concentrated corporate power and instead encouraged small-scale, local economic activity. Published in 1776, “Wealth of Nations” predates the rise of corporate power, and suggestions by corporate libertarians that the book somehow supports the notion of corporate dominance are either mistaken or outright dishonest.
It’s worth noting that libertarians have no right to claim that a laissez-faire environment would allow unregulated corporate power. Since corporations themselves are a fictitious creation of government, a true libertarian environment (with minimal government) would find them unnecessary and somewhat repugnant. Thus, ironically, at their essence corporations are a creation of government meddling.

The pathological and narcissistic nature of corporate “persons” is reason enough to deny them fundamental constitutional rights that should be reserved for flesh-and-bone persons, but the fact that they also wield economic resources far in excess of those available to real persons magnifies the need to restrain them. Author David C. Korten calls the claim by corporations for constitutional rights equal to those of humans a “legal perversion,” saying that “corporations should obey the laws decided by the citizenry, not write those laws.”

Korten’s statement alludes to why this issue is so critical to effective democracy. Because corporate interests have immense resources that enable them to participate in lobbying and litigation, they effectively control the governmental machine. If individual citizens today feel powerless and cynical about politics and government, who can blame them? Participatory democracy is not alive and well in America, because pathological corporate interests have complete control of the system. This is why Sanders’s declaration, that the future of American democracy may rely on the outcome of this issue, is not an overstatement. What kind of “persons” will control democracy – corporate or human?
The Tea Party and Corporate Power
The call by Sanders for a constitutional amendment cries out for popular support, and any mention of populism nowadays calls to mind the Tea Party. Progressives tend to dismiss Tea Party activists as ignorant and/or deluded, but we should realize that the Tea Party has a few (very few) valid points. At a minimum, the Tea Party is correct in saying that American democracy today would be unrecognizable to the framers.

In their speculation of what the framers would think about today’s America, however, Tea Party activists make the mistake of not considering the question fully. They focus almost exclusively on the singular issue of downsizing government, completely ignoring other aspects of modern America that would grab the framers’ attention. Surely, if Adams, Jefferson and Madison could be magically transplanted to modern America, their actual assessment of society would be much more comprehensive than critiquing the tax system and size of government.

For example, surely the aspect of modern society that would first preoccupy the framers would be our advanced technology, not our governmental structure. Only after marveling for days or weeks about modern technology, from flying in airplanes to sending emails, would the framers’ attention eventually turn to government. Then, of course, in analyzing government, they would certainly assess its expanded role in the proper context, in light of today’s much more complex technological, economic, and social realities.

Would they feel that government has gotten too big? Perhaps – especially the military. But it’s just as likely that they would conclude that much government expansion – the FDA, the FCC, the FAA, the EPA, Social Security, etc. – are logical results of technological and social development. Of course, all we can do is speculate.

But what the Tea Party ignores is that the framers would surely be aghast at the enormous power that Americans have ceded to private corporate institutions. The time-traveling framers would most likely assess American democracy as being ineffective and Americans themselves as being largely uninformed, passive, distracted by petty consumption, and incapable of critical thinking. They would see American politics and society as overtaken by corporate interests that dictate public and social policy to the private citizenry.

If only the Tea Party could see beyond its simple “limited government” mantra to consider such matters, its populist energy and enthusiasm might be put to good use in challenging the corporate “persons” who own and control American democracy and society. By fully considering their own hypothetical, Tea Party activists would find a new outlet for their angst.

You can bet Sanders will be met with much opposition in his call for a constitutional amendment.  Much of that opposition will have roots, overtly or covertly, in the corporate establishment that he seeks to tame. Time will tell which type of “persons” – human or corporate – win this struggle.

 

Originally published in Psychology Today or similar site.

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The Fed only cares about two things:  unemployment and inflation.  Congress makes Fiscal policy.  They are the ones responsible for stimulus.  

 

With that said, my idea has always been a more aggressive estate tax.  Use it or lose it.  No hoarders.

 

 

Going back through this a bit, Sois this is brilliant, have you read Picketty yet? He did a study on global economic policy over the past few decades and argues that capitial has been moving directly up to the point that its going globally in the hands of a few, ie: a kind of new feudalism

 

Picketty's answer is a global entity to set global policy if I recall correctly, which is all very NWOish and frankly I hate that answer because it takes away the sovernty of the nation state but this could work at least nationally to offset some of this.

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The paradigm shifted when the use of stock options for executive compensation became popular.  Instead of the long term viability of the company being of utmost importance, the short term performance of the company's stock became paramount.

 

With the advent of CNBC, quarterly earnings became a media event.  Furthermore, the practice of predicting earnings and the importance of BEATING expectations became more important that the proper operation of the company itself.

 

The hiring of BEAN counters (CPAs)  to run companies such as Ford (McNamara), GM and other major companies became commonplace in the US where before, engineers and insiders who understood the culture and what exactly the company did was the norm.

 

Want to know why a company like VW continues to kick ass while GM is a turd?   Probably because the VW CEO has a doctorate in process engineering and is an absolute car nut.     

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Winterkorn

 

GM's CEO has a bachelors in engineering and a  Masters in Business administration.    Keep in mind this is a HUGE step in the right direction for GM since it is really the first CEO that actually studied engineering (even thought it was a bachelors degree) in decades.

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The paradigm shifted when the use of stock options for executive compensation became popular.  Instead of the long term viability of the company being of utmost importance, the short term performance of the company's stock became paramount.

 

With the advent of CNBC, quarterly earnings became a media event.  Furthermore, the practice of predicting earnings and the importance of BEATING expectations became more important that the proper operation of the company itself.

 

The hiring of BEAN counters (CPAs)  to run companies such as Ford (McNamara), GM and other major companies became commonplace in the US where before, engineers and insiders who understood the culture and what exactly the company did was the norm.

 

Want to know why a company like VW continues to kick ass while GM is a turd?   Probably because the VW CEO has a doctorate in process engineering and is an absolute car nut.     

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Winterkorn

 

GM's CEO has a bachelors in engineering and a  Masters in Business administration.    Keep in mind this is a HUGE step in the right direction for GM since it is really the first CEO that actually studied engineering (even thought it was a bachelors degree) in decades.

 

Nailed it.

 

Though I don't know what VW does to the cars they sell here, but god they're pieces of shit.

 

And I could ramble on for days with the stories my dad told me about GM....

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Going back through this a bit, Sois this is brilliant, have you read Picketty yet? He did a study on global economic policy over the past few decades and argues that capitial has been moving directly up to the point that its going globally in the hands of a few, ie: a kind of new feudalism

 

Picketty's answer is a global entity to set global policy if I recall correctly, which is all very NWOish and frankly I hate that answer because it takes away the sovernty of the nation state but this could work at least nationally to offset some of this.

 

I have not read that.  I guess I should, I need to learn this stuff for schol.  

 

But thanks!

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I have not read that.  I guess I should, I need to learn this stuff for schol.  

 

But thanks!

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC_SdUvMBUc

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/19/24-7-wall-st-worst-states-women/17344861/
 

Women in the worst-rated states were also less likely to have leadership roles in government compared to women in the rest of the country. Only six of the 10 states had any female representation in Congress. Many of these states were among the nation's worst for female representation in their own state legislatures as well. State Senates usually have between 30 and 50 Senators. Of the 10 states on this list, however, only Kansas had more than 10 female senators.

While the United States is among the most developed countries in the world, it was one of just a handful of nations where maternal mortality actually rose over the last decade, according to a recent study published in The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Pregnancy related mortality rates vary considerably between states.

To determine the worst states for women, 24/7 Wall St. developed on a methodology based on the Center for American Progress' 2013 report, "The State of Women in America."

We divided a range of variables into three major categories: economy, leadership and health. Data in the economy category came from the U.S. Census Bureau and included male and female median earnings, the percentage of children enrolled in state pre-kindergarten, state spending per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten and education attainment rates. The leadership category included data on the percentage of women in management occupations from the Census. It also includes the share of state and federal legislators who are women, and states that currently have female governors. The health section incorporated Census data on the percentage of women who were uninsured as well as life expectancy. Infant and maternal mortality rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Data on the expansion of Medicaid, as policies towards maternity leave, sick days and time off from work came from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

State rankings on each of these measures were averaged to determine a score for each category. Possible scores ranged from 1 (best) to 50 (worst). The three category scores were averaged to create an indexed value that furnished our final ranking.

These are the worst states for women:

1. Utah

> Gender wage gap: 70 cents per dollar (4th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 13.6% (13th lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 16.3% (6th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 5.0 per 1,000 births (2nd lowest)

Utah is the worst state for women. Less than 31% of management positions were held by women in Utah, the second lowest rate nationwide. Women were also less likely than women in the vast majority of states to hold leadership roles in government. Of the 75 seats in the state's House of Representatives, just six were filled by women last year. And there were just five female state-level senators. In all, women made up just 16.3% of state legislators, less than in all but five other states. Perhaps the lack of women in traditionally high-paying management and high-level government occupations has exacerbated the gender pay gap. While a typical man in Utah earned more than $50,000 last year, most women made 70% — or $35,252 — of that figure, nearly the largest pay discrepancy in the country.

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As long as people are born with different levels of talent, there will, and should, be wealth inequity.

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As long as people are born with different levels of talent, there will, and should, be wealth inequity.

 

 

Talent has nothing to do with Equality of Opportunity, that should exist for EVERYONE


Further it should never be allowed to get to the types of levels that prohibit a functioning economy.

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So should we start taxing rich entertainers and athletes more?

 

I'd be OK with Oil companies, automobile manufacturers, banks, GE, technology companies... 

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So should we start taxing rich entertainers and athletes more?

 

Sure, top marginal rate should beat ~63% to maximize tax revenue.

 

That's neither here nor there.  My real problem is always with the velocity of the money supply.  It seems to bottleneck at the top.  Poor people spend money.  That's good.  Wealthy people hoard.  That's bad.  Rich people like Shaq buy Hummers and mansions.  That's good.  I like money spenders.  I don't like money hoarders.

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I've donated to lessing's May Day group, sadly though it's going to take ALOT more than this.

Everything has to start somewhere. 


Honestly I don't know a person who would disagree with this. Republican, Democrat whatever. The way campaigns are financed leaves us all out. 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/les-leopold/as-bad-as-you-think-it-is_b_6133920.html

 

 

As Bad As You Think It Is, It's Worse: Wage Theft Comes to America

 

In Denmark fast food workers make $20 an hour plus benefits, and the corporations who employ them are still profitable. Why there and not here?

The answer is simple and painful -- wage theft. In America corporations are systematically stealing our wages. Virtually everyone in the bottom 95 percent of the income distribution now suffers from wage theft... perhaps, including you!

 

It starts at the bottom of the income ladder. Many undocumented immigrant day labors survive by standing on street corners and selling their labor to drive-by construction and landscaping contractors. Unfortunately, far too many contractors refuse to pay after the work is done, something experienced by nearly every day-laborer.

 

What can undocumented workers do about it? For most, not much. If they report the theft, they run the risk of being reported to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Instead, most just go back to their corners hoping to find more scrupulous contractors. Or, if they are lucky enough to be affiliated with an immigrant worker center like the Workers Justice Project in Brooklyn, NY, they find jobs through its hiring hall where contractors agree to pay decent wages and provide safer working conditions.

 

Next come the fast-food workers who work overtime, but rarely see their time and half which they are entitled to by law. Franchise managers at McDonald, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Wendy's and the like steal those hours by fiddling with the logs. You don't like it? Leave. But, if you're lucky enough to be part of the Fast Food Forward campaign, the threat of protest and legal action might force the employer to pay up. Try stealing OT in Denmark and the union would shut down the entire chain.

 

Move up the food chain a bit and you'll find the Amazon worker who must line up for 25 minutes to pass through "egress security" -- screeners to stop pilfering. Amazon says this is not "integral and indispensable" to the job, and therefore, it is lawful not to pay for the time. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether efforts to halt merchandize theft will become legalized wage theft.

 

Grand Larceny?
The research report, Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, estimates the scale and scope of low-wage theft in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The authors write:

The average worker lost $51, out of average weekly earnings of $339. Assuming a full-time, full-year work schedule, we estimate that these workers lost an average of $2,634 annually due to workplace violations, out of total earnings of $17,616. That translates into wage theft of 15 percent of earnings.

The Economics Policy Institute (EPI) uses those numbers to provide a national estimate:

The total annual wage theft from front-line workers in low-wage industries in the three cities approached $3 billion. If these findings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are generalizable to the rest of the U.S. low-wage workforce of 30 million, wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a year.

How much is $50 billion in wage theft? It's almost four times greater than the $13.6 billion reported by FBI for the total costs of all stolen cars, other larcenies, burglaries and robberies in 2012. Fifty billion a year is enough to cover the wage bill for over 1.2 million jobs that pay $20 an hour.

 

Not me?

You may be thinking "Thank God, I'm not a low-wage worker. Nobody's stealing my pay." Or are they?

 

The only difference between the rest of us and a day-laborer is that our employers have developed ways to fleece us legally. And we're not talking about a few dollars here and there. Nearly half of our wages have been misappropriated. Enter Exhibit #1: The Productivity/Wage Gap.

 

This hidden larceny takes a little explaining. Productivity, a word near and dear to every manager's heart, measures how much we produce per hour of labor. For an entire economy, gauges our total level of knowledge, skill, technology and organization. It's also the key to the wealth of nations. The more goods and services produced per hour, the higher the standard of living. Of course this crude measure has trouble accounting for a sustainable environment or health or well-being. But usually, those countries with the highest levels of productivity have the greatest ability to protect the public's health and the environment.

 

As the chart below shows that productivity in the U.S. economy (the top line) has risen steadily since WWII, climbing in 65 of the last 70 years. For generations, as productivity increased so did real wages (how much we earn after factoring out increases is the cost of living.) As we can see, from WWII until the mid-1970s, productivity and wages were virtually inseparable. As productivity increased, so did wages. In fact, when I was in graduate school in the early 1970s, they taught us that entwinement was an economic law -- the two lines had to rise together because when they separated, market forces would pull them back together. By about 1980, this iron law was repealed. Wages stalled while productivity continued to climb.

 

2014-11-10-productivitywagegap-thumb.JPG

Let's be clear: When productivity rises, wages can increase without harming profits. For nearly a quarter of a century after WWII, about two-thirds of the productivity gains went to wages, while the rest went to profits, research and development, and the replacement of plant and equipment. Now corporate elites are squeezing revenues to reward themselves. Plant, equipment, research and workers must make do with less.

 

Since the late 1970s, the average real wage for most of us has stalled. Had we continued to get our fair share of productivity, our wages would be double our current pay. Think about how you'd be living with twice your current wages (like a Dane!).

 

What happened? Where did all that productivity money go? It all comes back to Wall Street. Financial interests were deregulated so that they could better manipulate the economy. (What they did and how they did it will be subjects of future articles in this series.) Laws and regulations were changed. Financial maneuvers that once would have landed financiers in jail, now land them in penthouses.

 

As the rules of the game changed, financiers began to siphon wealth away from corporations -- from our pockets to theirs. This chart shows how much the average top CEO makes for every one dollar earned by the average worker. Where did our productivity money go? They took it.

 

2014-11-10-top100wagegap-thumb.JPG

 

Here's one more chart that tells the story. It compares financial incomes to non-financial incomes. Until 1980 or so there was no premium for working on Wall Street. Now the average earnings are twice as high. That's your money.

 

2014-11-10-financialversusnonfinancialwa

 

But is it really theft?
Theft is defined as "the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny."

Even if it's legal, in my book, it's the very definition of "wrongful taking." Most of our economic ills stem from this productivity/wage theft. As economic elites siphoned away our wages, they turned the economy into a casino that crashed in 2008. The great American Dream that so mesmerized working people around the globe, is no more. And it will never return until we realize that our new financialized economy is now constructed upon "wrongful taking."

 

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